Whether you work with an SEO agency, have an in-house team, or are a one-man-band doing your own research, everyone you talk to about SEO tells you a key part of your SEO strategy needs to be generating backlinks to your website. But, are they right or are backlinks overhyped and not as useful as we have all been thinking?
It is a question a lot of businesses ask. And the truth is it depends on your business. There are a lot of small businesses out there, who are in uncompetitive niches, and funnelling too much time and money into backlinks when there are other more effective SEO strategies to use.
If you are in a highly competitive niche and have competitors constantly trying to knock you off your top SERP (search engine results page) position, then yes you should focus on generating backlinks.
However, for the purpose of this article, we will assume you are a small business owner in an uncompetitive niche.
Before you start worrying about backlinks, you need to make sure your SEO ducks are in a row. There are some quick SEO wins that most small businesses can gain if they switched the focus of their SEO strategy away from backlinks.
An SEO audit will bring to light any errors you have on your website that Google doesn't like.
You will want to look out for technical issues that are things such as duplicate content, 404 errors, slow page load speeds.
These issues are incredibly important and have become even more so with the May 2021 update that Google is bringing.
AHrefs has a free trial that you can sign up for and gain access to their audit tool. This audit will give you insights into where all the technical issues are on your website.
In addition, you will want to review on-page content issues. This includes things such as Meta Titles, Meta Descriptions, Atl Tags, and keyword placement based on your keyword research.
For fixing on-page SEO issues there are a lot of great tools to use. For example, if you have a WordPress website, RankMath is a FREE tool you should be using. If you are using a different platform you will be able to find a similar equivalent plugin, whether it is for Shopify, Squarespace or another website builder.
If some of this is sounding like Chinese to you, go check out our blog on SEO tips for Small Business where we cover the SEO basics and what some of the above terms mean.
Discover what pages are bringing in your traffic. Ahrefs can also help you with this step on their Site Explorer. This will show you what keywords you are ranking for and in what position.
Take this information, identify what pages are getting traffic and start adding internal links to other pages on your website that you want to start generating more traffic.
These should be relevant in-content links. Beyond navigation or footer links, creating an internal web that will keep users on your website.
By fixing your technical issue and building a web of relevant internal links you will help your poor performing pages rank higher and generate traffic.
Only once you have all your ducks in a row in other aspects of your website SEO is it time to start developing a backlink strategy.
You will find you will see faster and more impactful results from completing the above steps in your SEO strategy over trying to obtain backlinks, especially if you are trying to rank for low competition keywords.
These strategies deliver guaranteed results, whereas linkbuilding can be tricky. You are not guaranteed to generate links from a campaign you put a lot of time into, and according to Aira, 28% of digital marketers who reported having created a campaign that generated no links at all.
However once you have completed these steps and have your website in tip-top shape, now you are in a great position to use backlinks to knock your competitors off their top spot.
Backlinks can be a handy SEO tool. But they are overhyped by many. If you are a small niche business, and not competing with big brands for your keywords, you will find there are other SEO strategies that will have bigger impacts for the time and resources you put into them.
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